Monday, June 20, 2016

Who's Up For An Inventory Issue?

*It's a sunny day, a month ago, a few scattered clouds, and enough breeze to keep the temperature just below the point it might start to get unpleasant. Calvin and the Clever Adolescent Panda have left Calvin's car at a locked gate and are walking steadily along a deserted paved road*

Clever Adolescent Panda: . . . and so I just got by on my exam for Understanding Societal Trends. I guess I don't really understand them very well.

CAP: {Hmm.}

CAP: But my work with Lufonz getting his new body ready is going well. It'd be going better if the panda who filled in for me when I came to visit last time hadn't blown up half the workspace.

Calvin: {Really?}

CAP: [No direct human translation, roughly corresponds to, "deeply flowing current"] tries hard, but he gets distracted easily, and engineering isn't his strong suit.

Calvin: {Then why sub him in?}

CAP: He's pretty good at the math part, when he concentrates. He just isn't good with his paws.

Calvin: {Hmm.}

*The panda looks around, noticing the old telephone poles, all with the wires gone. There's no other human structures in the surrounding woods.*

CAP: This place is pretty neat. It's like some mysteriously abandoned colony. All the people and their possessions gone, and just the road to show they ever existed. *moment's pause* The road's in surprisingly good shape, though. How long ago did they shut this part down?

Calvin: *shrugs* {Couldn't tell ya.}

CAP: There's no signs left. How do you know where we're going?

Calvin: {Looked at a map online, put a dot on my map. Now I'm just guessing which road will take up the right way. Cut through the woods if we have to.}

CAP: That seems remarkably like winging it, coming from you. You aren't Pollock in disguise again, are you?

Calvin: *silent smile*

CAP: Don't make me hit you.

Calvin: {The fact I'm doing a geocache thing without using a GPS is Luddite enough to prove I'm me, isn't it?}

CAP: I guess so, Captain Flip-Phone. I'm surprised your ancient laptop can even pull up maps. *pause* I didn't even think you were into this kind of thing.

Calvin: *shrugs again* {I know the people who set it up. I want to help it be a success, so I'm participating. *walks silently for a few seconds* And it's something to do.}

CAP: That's it?

Calvin: *shrugs*

CAP: I figured you were expecting trouble. Bandit bears, or sky pirates.

Calvin: *mock-serious* {There are no bears here, and what, I can only call you to come visit when I'm expecting trouble?}

CAP: *hastily* No, it's just that's how it usually works out.

Calvin: {I think you've got it backwards, chum. You usually show up, and then things start exploding or punching me.}

CAP: Don't start with that! Pollock tried that once, and it really bothered me.

Calvin: {Fair enough. But you do like to fight.}

CAP: Besides, it makes you sound like one of those jerk Marvel citizens that says the superheroes creates the supervillains.

Calvin: {That's hitting below the belt. And I don't believe I ever described you as a "superhero".}

*The pair continue the jibes as they amble down the road for another 10 minutes. Birds call steadily from the woods, squirrels make a surprising amount of noise moving through the leaves. Eventually the road turns into a loop in the remains of a campground. The parking areas are still distinguishable from their gravel, and there are even some stone tables left around, most of them tipped over or broken apart.*

CAP: *getting excited* Look! There's a fresh, well-worn footpath! I bet it's down there!

*The panda dashes ahead, Calvin picking his way through the high grass more carefully, trying to avoid ticks as much as possible.*

CAP: *jumping in the air* I found it! I found it! I mean, I think I found it. It's an orange box right?

Calvin: {Yep.}

*The box is sitting next to the broken remains of a tree trunk. Still partially attached, it forms a nice diagonal platform to stand on, providing an excellent view of the cliff face ahead of them, and the lake it overlooks. A hawk flies by to the right, and directly ahead they can see the far side of the lake, covered completely with more trees. The illusion of being all alone is somewhat spoiled by a powerboat zooming past in the middle distance. CAP opens the box as Calvin takes a couple of photos.*

CAP: Do you want a cool name written down in the log book?

Calvin: {Nah, use the real one.}

*The panda dutifully fills in first its name, then Calvin's, while Calvin continues to watch the lake silently.*

CAP: What are the tags for?

Calvin: *absently* {You collect 'em all, you get a special coin.}

CAP: *tackles Calvin* You mean there are prizes?!

Calvin: {Yes?}

CAP: Well then let's go! Let's get the rest! Right now!

Calvin: {Hang on a sec, would ya? Can I take a moment to enjoy this place? They picked it for a reason, ya know.}

CAP: Oh yeah, I guess so. Sorry.

Calvin: {Sheesh, so impatient.}

*The two sit quietly, enjoying the breeze off the lake. It's a well-chosen spot, and Calvin feels more relaxed than he has in weeks. The panda is still being a little twitchy.*

CAP: *looks around* I still keep expecting someone to attack us.

Calvin: *exasperated sigh* {You keep bringing it up, they probably will. *enjoys the view for another few moments* All right, let's go.}

CAP: Yeah, onward! *pumps fist, charges ahead*

Calvin: *watches the panda rush off, starts to follow* {Maybe this is why we only hang out when I'm about to die. You'd kill me from exhaustion otherwise.}

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